South Dakota Agricultural and Rural Leadership Foundation

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South Dakota Agricultural and Rural Leaders Graduate from 18-month Program

The South Dakota Agricultural and Rural Leadership Program (SDARL) graduated 28 leaders in Class IX during a weekend ceremony held in Chamberlain. The event was the culmination of an 18-month leadership development journey that began in November 2016.


“We’re confident that these new graduates will continue the tradition of leadership in their communities and throughout the state,” noted SDARL Executive Director Lori Cope. “They have demonstrated solid personal and professional growth through the program.”


The SDARL leadership program is a series of 12 seminars that includes 10 meetings in communities across South Dakota, one week in Washington, D.C., and an international study seminar.  Class IX studied agriculture and rural issues in India. Participants develop the skills, knowledge, and character necessary to serve in leadership roles in their communities. The seminar content includes improving public speaking, networking, broadening understanding of diverse cultures, studying local economic development, and increasing knowledge of state, local, national, and international issues affecting the state’s most essential industry – agriculture.


“The program is made possible through a funding cohort that includes a fee paid by participants, and investments from our alumni, corporations, and associations who share our passion for strong leadership in the state,” said Don Norton, SDARL CEO. “Because we receive no direct state or federal funding, we’re grateful to our funding partners who make this experience possible.”


SDARL graduates continue to serve as leaders, including the Secretary of Agriculture, Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, President of the South Dakota Farm Bureau, and in numerous local, state, and national association and business positions. Every day the 271 graduates of the SDARL program are having a positive and profound impact on agriculture and communities throughout the state.




Graduates of the 9th class of the South Dakota Agricultural and Rural Leadership Program include, Back row: Bart Randall, Chamberlain; Matt Dybedahl, Pierre; Adam Schindler, Reliance; Ryan Beer, Lemmon; Edam Ehlers, Presho; Chad Nelsen, Viborg; Brian Bannwarth, Mitchell; Adam Ehlers, Presho; Derek Little, Colman; Jason Warrington, Groton; Jon Kleinjan, Brookings; Billy Clanton, Buffalo; Rob Thuringer, Madison; Brian Gilbert, Dell Rapids; Lee Sanderson, Conde; Brian Ternus, Valley Springs; Kyle Schell, Wasta; Scott Biskeborn, Chamberlain; Ben Stout, Brookings

Front row: Bo Slovek, Philip; Jen Henrie, Philip; Tif Robertson, Hermosa; Dani Hanson, Pierre; Lacey Caffee, Wessington Springs; Sarah Hill, Hetland; Shelby Bartling, Gregory; Kara Kayser, Emery; Rebecca Christman, Sioux Falls; Peggy Bieber, Leola; Lori Cope, SDARL Executive Director


Class IX Graduation